OK, I’ll admit it: I wasn’t a hockey fan before the 2015–2016 season. I would complain when Stephen wanted to go downtown to watch the Nashville Predators play. I would whine about how I didn’t want to spend my evening sitting in a cold arena, watching a bunch of grown men skate around on an ice rink.
That’s so hard and painful to admit now! In February 2016, Stephen and I didn’t have any plans one Saturday night, so we decided to get last-minute tickets to see the Predators play the San Jose Sharks. I grumbled a bit—I really wanted to put on my yoga pants, order pizza and read—but I donned my navy shirt and gold sweater and skipped (grudgingly) out the door with my husband. I convinced him to take me out to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants beforehand, so it was a win in my eyes.
The atmosphere at Bridgestone Arena was electric. I had been to one or two games before, but I had never really paid attention to the crowd. People were chanting! Fans were cheering! James Neal scored in the first period, giving the Predators the 1–0 lead. Viktor Arvidsson scored two goals, and then the captain, Shea Weber, got an empty-netter. I also got a funnel cake, so that was awesome, too. That night, I became a fan. Like a legit fan.
Before I knew it, I was calling the ticket office to buy a four-game ticket package as a “Valentine’s day gift for my husband.” But let’s just call it what it really was: a gift for myself. I was going to those games with or without him. See ya, hubs!
So on February 15, we were at Bridgestone Arena again. Shea Weber got in a fight, and not only was I tweeting about it (I believe that tweet said, “Oh Captain! My Captain!”), but I was also standing on my seat cheering for him.
And it just escalated.
If you glance at my Twitter timeline, you’ll see that from February–May, the Predators were the subject of most of my tweets. I thought Stephen was a hardcore fan, but I quickly became the one staying up late at night to watch the west coast games. I started following the Twitter accounts of Predators staff members (shout-out to Thomas Willis and Brooks Bratten), retweeting GIFs and player interviews. By the third game we went to, Stephen had purchased a jersey for me. I had not yet decided on a favorite player, so we went with a blank one. Fast forward to April, and I was proudly wearing James Neal’s name and number on my back.
I hooped and hollered until I was hoarse when Filip Forsberg earned his second hat trick in one week at the February 27 game against the Blues. I teared up when Mike Fisher was honored at his 1,000 game ceremony. I cried and cheered and danced in my living room when the Preds beat the Ducks in Game 7 of the first series. I stood on my seat, screamed at the top of my lungs and waved that rally towel proud when Mike Fisher scored the game-winning goal in the third overtime of Game 4 against the Sharks in the second series. I hugged the complete strangers standing around me, gave high fives, and then cheered the entire walk to the car.
This is now my favorite sport. I love the atmosphere—the music, the crowds, the entertainment. I love the team—not only are they beasts on the ice, but they do really good work to better the Nashville community. I love the game—the intensity, the pace and the excitement.
So thanks, Nashville Predators, for making me a fan. I can’t wait until October!
Update (5/18/2017): Y’all. We’re in the Western Conference Finals! Can you believe this? What an amazing season. We were so excited to be season ticket holders this year, and we’re pumped to see the Preds go this far. Here are some of my favorite moments from the season.